Controversial cartoonist Michael Leunig has been axed from his prime spot in The Age newspaper after a cartoon comparing resistance against mandatory Covid vaccines to the fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square was censored.
‘Apparently, I’m out of touch with the readership,’ Leunig told The Australian’s Media Diary of his sacking from providing the editorial page cartoon in Monday editions of the Melbourne-based publication.
Leunig’s cartoon, which never made the paper, featured one of his typically fragile, big-nosed figures facing the silhouette of a tank with a syringe in place of the gun turret.
[Michael] told The Australian that The Age’s editor Gay Alcorn called him soon after she banned the cartoon to “break the news gently” that he was no longer wanted on the editorial page.
He said he was told he was “out of touch with the readership”.
“Gay feels this type of cartoon is not in line with public sentiment, and The Age’s readership, who it does seem are largely in favour of the Andrews Covid narrative,” he said. “But my job is to challenge the status quo, and that has always been the job of the cartoonist.”
He defended his cartoon, saying the Tiananmen Square image is often used in cartoons around the world as a “Charlie Chaplin-like metaphor for overwhelming force meeting the innocent powerless individual” — which he felt was fair to express.